Demonstration Gardens

The Master Gardener Program 
The Demonstration Garden, located at the Robert C. Parker School in North Greenbush, is one of Rensselaer County’s very few public gardens. Master Gardener volunteers designed this outdoor classroom to demonstrate how different plants can create a variety of stylish gardens. The garden is open to the public during daylight hours. Please respect the school grounds during your visit. 

Prairie Garden
Inspired by the prairies of the west and Midwest, this garden features tough plants. The open windswept site shows gardeners how to utilize poor clay soil and develop a garden with minimum maintenance. Clay busting plants like Silphium and Baptisiaestablish the structural elements while cone flowers and Heliopsis add splashes of color. A combination of native prairie plants and non-native plants were carefully combined to establish this beautiful garden. Home gardeners can utilize the concepts and match plant materials from this site to develop their own pleasing garden. The garden's design team added special touches by carefully choosing some structural winter interest and plants with different blooming times to keep the garden colorful throughout the changing seasons.

Ornamental Grass Garden
This garden was designed to showcase the versatility that different grasses can make in a natural landscaped garden. Center stage is a large specimen of Maiden Grass (Miscanthus). The garden contains a wide range of ornamental grasses varying in texture, shape, size, and color. Grasses with blue, red, yellow, and variegated foliage all can be found here. They swaying of the grasses in the breeze and their dramatic development through the gardening season show how dynamic grasses can be in a garden.

Fragrance Garden
This garden was created to capture aromatic smells. Some flowers were chosen for their delicate and pleasing scents, others for their bold, strong aromas. When building a fragrance garden, a calm, protected area is recommended. Supplying arbors, fences, and hedges will help trap plant fragrances. Always be careful when purchasing plants. Many varieties created by hybridizers are frequently less fragrant. It's important to not only look, but smell before choosing. Remember, not all plants are aromatic at the same time. The time of year and the time of day will determine what scents are being produced. Some plants are only fragrant on a spring morning, others on a summer evenings, so plan accordingly. Planning is the key for a successful fragrance garden.

Butterfly Garden 
The Butterfly Garden consists of many different kinds of trees, shrubs, perennials and annuals. These plants provide food for the larvae (caterpillars) and nectar for the adult butterflies in our area. Trees and shrubs provide a safe place for roosting, courtship, and wintering. Perennials and annuals provide a safe place for butterflies to deposit their eggs and provide the necessary food for developing caterpillars. Plant nectar also provides carbohydrates for adult butterflies. Each species of butterfly has its preferred food plants. The larvae of the Black Swallowtail prefer Queen Anne’s lace, dill, parsley, and plants in the carrot family. The Tiger Swallowtail prefers lilacs, ash and black cherry trees. The Monarch caterpillar will only feed on milkweeds. Butterflies previously observed in the garden included American Lady, Black Swallowtail, and Monarchs. As the garden matures and more protection is afforded to the butterflies by the trees and shrubs, we can expect more butterflies to find their way to the garden.

Plant A Row For The Hungry Garden 
Our newest garden was inspired by a national campaign to share garden produce with those less fortunate. In the summer of 2008, this garden produced tomatoes, zucchini, squash, radishes, peppers and other summer delights, which were shared with community groups in Averill Park, Rensselaer, and Troy. Not only is this garden directly productive, but we hope it will inspire other gardeners to share their excess bounty.

Herb Garden
The most formal of our gardens, the Herb Garden was completed in 2008. Inspired by Shaker designs, the four raised beds are enclosed by a rustic wooden fence. The focal point of the garden is a memorial bench, dedicated to the memory of previous Master Gardeners. A wide variety of culinary and otherwise useful herbs, such as germander, dill, basil, wormwood and marshmallow grow here. It is extremely interesting to see the plants our ancestors relied upon for their very survival.

Our gazebo sits atop the highest point of the garden, which affords a wonderful view of this little piece of Rensselaer County. A resting point and meeting place, the gazebo is also a classroom for our popular evening educational programs. To expand the space, a pergola was constructed adjacent to the gazebo in 2008.

The Rensselaer County Demonstration Garden is located at the Robert C. Parker School in North Greenbush, New York. From interstate 90 take exit 8 and proceed east on Rte. 43, going through the Rte.4 intersection. The garden is 2.1 miles farther east on Rte. 43, on the lefthand side. Watch for the sign for the school.

Last updated January 30, 2019